6:00 PM, 18th August, 2012
Fairy tales are experiencing a minor comeback this year; especially on film, with two versions of Snow White screening this semester, both giving the classic tale a new spin. This is the frothy, family-friendlier one. Since the King disappeared ten years ago, the kingdom has been controlled by his wife, whose excessive lifestyle has bankrupted the kingdom's coffers. When a wealthy prince visits, the Queen (Roberts) sees an opportunity for an advantageous marriage to solve her money problems. Unfortunately, her beautiful eighteen-year-old stepdaughter catches his eye before she can make her move. What's an evil queen to do? Banish the girl, of course! She'll never survive in the ominous forest; especially with a gang of seven nefarious bandits and a mysterious, deadly creature about. Or will she?
Helmed by visual perfectionist Tarsem Singh (The Fall, last semester's Immortals), this is a lavish feast for the eyes, with extravagant costumes and elaborate scenery. Roberts is delightfully snarky as the wicked queen who just wants to be admired; Nathan Lane amuses as her downtrodden lackey, Brighton. Lily Collins (The Blind Side) is equal parts luminescent and spunky as the spirited Snow White, and Armie Hammer (The Social Network) plays the love-struck Prince Charming as daring, dashing and a little bit devastatingly handsome (if you're into that sort of thing...).
This take on the time-old tale is original and entertaining; holding true to the traditional story, but with a few post-modern quirks. A joy for fairy tale fans, young and old.
8:00 PM, 18th August, 2012
Roger Brown (Hennie) is a recruitment consultant who moonlights as an art thief, and he's a pleasure to watch in action: clever, using his day job to best advantage as cover, deeply professional, careful, never too greedy. We want to see more of him - but we don't really like him: he's a touch smarmy, soured by an inferiority complex, obsessed with maintaining his ludicrously expensive lifestyle and uncomfortably cynical in how he thinks of his stunning blonde trophy wife. (We're pretty sure he misjudges her, but whether she's much better, or much worse, than he realises, we won't find out until the end.)
He could keep up his exhausting juggling act forever, but one day he is too greedy, goes for a theft too good to be true, and finds himself losing everything he valued - then losing even more, as he runs for his life up and down Norway, pursued relentlessly by the man who set him up. We fear Mr. Brown may have met his match; and we fear it because, by now, we've grown to like him.
I haven't seen a tenser thriller in years: it somehow manages to combine the ruthless delight a sadist might feel watching a rat trying to escape from a maze with a deep concern for the fate of its characters. I also think the plot twists are genuinely surprising - but maybe not; maybe we're simply having too much fun to waste time trying to guess them.